Resolution and Viewing Distance

14/10/2008

If you know the ultimate destination for your web-to-print artwork, you can build the file accordingly — which helps optimize readability, document size,, web-to-print processing time and time during the production cycle.
Regarding visibility (especially for larger signs, like billboards), you should make sure your text characters are tall enough to be read from however far away your audience will be viewing it.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: for a given letter height, “H”, useful viewing distance should not exceed H x 450.

E.g., if your letters are 10 millimeters tall (3/8″), then 10mm x 450 = a useful viewing distance of 4.5 meters (14’9″).

The resolution of your raster file usually should be higher for small prints, and can be lowered for larger prints. Generally, business cards should be at least 300 ppi, letter-sized prints can be as low as 200 ppi — and if you’re having a billboard printed that will be installed many car lengths away from its audience, a resolution of less than 10 ppi may be acceptable. These rough guidelines can be modified depending on the subject of the web-to-print template: higher-contrast elements (like text) should dictate a higher ppi, while lower-contrast items (like most photos, especially blurry ones) can be printed with a lower ppi without unduly distracting the viewer.

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